I swear I’m not getting paid for this. At any rate, Netflix just added two very cool features to their service.
The first is profiles. This is going to catch like wildfire. I’d wager a guess that most Netflix subscriptions are shared by multiple people. Just think about families, roommates, and couples. The original implementation of Netflix didn’t really take this into account. Everyone had to share the same queue, same ratings, and same recommendations. Having the same queue meant constant manipulation so that everyone got their movies instead of just one person. The downfalls of the other two are self-explanatory.
The solution was profiles. As the account owner, you set up profiles for all the people that will be using Netflix. You select the highest rated movie they can get (PG for kids is an example). Then you choose how many of the movies out of your current plan they get. In my case, I let one of my three movies be solely for my mother (can you believe such a sweet man is still single ladies?). I still have two that get sent based upon the contents of my queue. I send one of my movies back, another from my queue gets sent out. When my mom sends one back, another from her queue gets sent out. Likewise, our ratings and recommendations are completely separate. I don’t think mom would like the Blade movies as much as I did.
This feature is saying something about Netflix though. They want you to share plans. They recognized how people would use this service and because of the way it’s set up now, they increase the possibility of people getting the larger plans.
Everyone Needs a Friend
The other new feature is friends. Ever wonder how crappy your friends taste in movies was? Now you can know. You simply send an invite through email to one of your real (Netflix using) friends and you instantly have access to all their reviews. They also have access to yours. Neat.
One can see Netflix’s new business strategy with these two enhancements. They want to maintain and grow their userbase. They maintain their userbase through the friends feature. Users will be more hesitant to switch to something like Blockbuster’s service because their friends are on Netflix. Profiles will grow their business. Superficial examination would seem to suggest the opposite. People that would normally join to get their own service may now simply join onto someone else’s plan. However, this also means that they won’t try Blockbuster’s service. They will get another user and based upon already liking Netflix and the friends feature, are likely to keep using it, even when they almost inevitably leave the original plan because they move out. Brilliant.